Who’s indoctrinating whom? According to Merriam-Webster, the word indoctrinate originated in the 17th century. It meant “to teach,” as it comes from docēre, the Latin word for teaching. But by the 19th century, the meaning shifted to signify teaching someone to uncritically accept a particular group’s ideas, beliefs, and opinions. The key word is “uncritically.” This is supposedly why public schools and their teachers are now called indoctrinators. They are accused of pushing a liberal agenda about race, gender, equality, and history but refusing to let students express opinions that may contradict what is being taught.
Who are the real indoctrinators?
People who have differing opinions about those topics accuse schools of indoctrination. For example, parent groups demanded the removal of books from school libraries whose subject matter they disapproved of. Other groups have had schools closed over history lessons they found offensive. And for the most part, schools have complied with parents’ demands. This then begs the question, “Who’s indoctrinating whom?”
If schools bend to the demands of a few parents, aren’t those parents now the Indoctrinators?
Public School’s Purpose
Aren’t schools, by their very nature, indoctrination machines? At least, this was their original purpose. Horace Mann, the person behind the idea of public education, was a lawyer and member of the House of Representatives in 1827. He felt very strongly that a successful nation needs a population educated in basic literacy and a common set of public ideals. Well, someone has to decide what basic literacy entails and what public ideals need to be taught.
So, as long as people feel comfortable with the decisions about what the curriculum contains, there is no “indoctrination.” But when somebody takes issue with a topic or point of view that is contrary to their own, cries of “indoctrination” begin to fly at school board meetings. Also, candidates at political rallies can grab votes by jumping on the “indoctrination wagon.” Who’s indoctrinating whom?
Controversy fosters collaboration
Today many teachers cringe at topics that might be controversial and try to avoid or gloss over them to keep from potentially “stepping in it.” However, tough topics are at the heart of critical thinking. Because of this, schools should teach students to analyze multiple sides of an issue and form opinions. These are skills that help students learn how to problem solve. Students need to learn how to have cogent discussions on current relevant issues with people who may have opposing views. They must practice the art of compromise so that all sides have a seat at the table. However, if students feel they cannot share their points of view, then there IS a problem, but the issue is with the instructor, not the entire system.
In today’s episode, we discuss whether or not there is an indoctrination issue in today’s classrooms, We explain how to tell if there’s a problem and what can be done. You’ll hear why Jen was accused of “indoctrination” 🙄 You can decide if she “stepped in it!.” Listen in and see if you think she deserved that title.
Is Jen an indoctrinator? Has someone accused you of indoctrination? Have you witnessed it? Who’s indoctrinating whom? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.
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References used for this episode
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